I saw the Captain Marvel movie on opening weekend. I’m a big fan of superhero films. I’ve seen almost all of them. I’m also a comic book geek. Yup! I’m one of those. I adore origin stories and didn’t really know much about Captain Marvel until I saw the film. I thoroughly enjoyed it. She’s a true badass and I respect that. She’s also superpowerful and well, this got me thinking about a conversation I had recently with a friend of mine.
Dr. Ryan J. Schoenbeck, my favorite Ryan next to Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool to you comic movie nerds like me), is a life coach, the president of my local ICF chapter and a good friend. He’s very kind and generous. Not surprisingly, he runs a leadership coaching practice at https://www.generosityleadership.com. Almost every time we talk, he says something that just knocks me off my feet. I used to think that was hard to do. Apparently, it’s not.
For those of you who are not aware, I struggle with bipolar disorder. I was diagnosed about ten years ago at the age of 35 and had been living my life without medication for the major portion of it. I had gotten to a point of comfort with the condition and had thought I was coping with it rather well. Then, I had weight loss surgery and something went awry.
I had more problems sleeping and getting regulated. I was rapid cycling which meant that my moods would shift day to day and sometimes within the same day. It’s not normal for a mid-life patient with bipolar disorder to do that. It’s much more common for teens and young adults.
My psychiatrist and I had a difficult time pinpointing what was going wrong. We’d tried med changes and sleeping meds and even PTSD medication. I do have significant trauma from a difficult childhood. You’ll have to read all about that in my book, which I’m currently writing.
I also have a lot of anger and built up sadness/depression which I used to soothe by eating. I’m also anxious by nature and the sugar I used to crave when I was fat helped numb me to my feelings. The overeating was a coping mechanism that helped me deal with the truth that is my life.
I don’t want you to think that I’m a victim or that I don’t see the beauty in life. Things have been rough, but I know I’m fortunate. I have a good husband, good children, a good dog and a lovely home to live in. I have a career that I adore, friends who love me and so much more. I am blessed truly.
However, I often feel cursed by my bipolar disorder, especially in the past two years. I’ve seen it as anything but a good thing. However, in comes Ryan. After yet another night of little to no sleep, we connected on Instant Messenger and he asked me how I was. I told him I was sick of being bipolar.
I usually don’t use any form of the verb ‘to be’ in respect to my illness. I am NOT my disorder. I have a disorder, but it was getting hard not to over-identify with it. I’d been dealing with it so much as of late. Ryan had never really heard me talk much about my illness. I like to keep it from people. I find that they don’t often understand, or they think less of me because I have an illness. It’s not always the case, but it’s happened enough for me to be wary of who I tell. To be honest, I’m kind of nervous sharing with you online.
Ryan was very kind to me. He challenged me to look at my dis-ease as a blessing, not a curse. He said that having bipolar disorder was sort of like having a ‘superpower’. He told me that I had such a natural creative energy and the ability to see projects through. He encouraged me to think of it as an evolutionary adaptation, perhaps one that could make me better, stronger and healthier in the long run.
Wow! I was shocked. He floored me. I was in tears. He didn’t know that, but then he challenged me to consider bipolar disorder as my superpower for the entire month of March. I promised him I would and I have been.
As a result, I’ve been kinder and gentler with myself and others. I’ve been able to see the beauty in the illness. I’m starting to sleep better and feel less stressed overall. I still have bouts of creativity, but they come in waves. When I’m not feeling creative, I don’t sweat it. When my energy is low, I relax and let it flow again. I’m taking better care of myself. I am eating right, exercising and relaxing more. I am reading books that give me joy and spending more time with my family. I am balancing my work and business life.
It’s not a cure all, but it helps to see my illness as a superpower. Maybe I’m not Captain Marvel, but I’m a Bipolar Badass and that’s a pretty good thing. I encourage you to look at your life, see what’s most challenging to you and turn it on its head. I’m happy to work with you if you need it. I’d love to help you define your superpower so you can set the world on fire too.
Are you ready? Call me at 512-484-7634 and we’ll get started today.